HC Deb 02 December 1970 vol 807 cc1259-60
6. Mr. John Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will arrange to issue statistics on migration from Scotland quarterly.

The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office (Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

This is not practicable. Half-yearly estimates of net migration are published in the Registrar-General's quarterly returns for the June and December quarters Half- yearly overseas migration figures are given also in the returns for the March and September quarters.

Mr. Smith

Bearing in mind that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) promised when he took office to halve the figures of migration from Scotland and more than beat the target which he set himself, will the hon. Gentleman tell us what target the Conservative Government have set and what proposals they have to meet it?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Before the hon. Gentleman makes statements like that, he should remind himself that the average number of people migrating from Scotland was 4,000 a year higher during the six years of Labour Government than it was during the previous six years of Conservative Government.

Mr. Ross

Considering that the last time the present Secretary of State had anything to do with Scottish affairs migration was running at the rate of over 40,000, and he has now inherited a rate just over 20,000, to what does the hon. Gentleman attribute that fall?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

In case he does not remember, I remind the right hon. Gentleman that a peak migration figure of 47,000 was reached during his tenure of office. While we welcome a reduction in migration figures recently, I must point out that migration overseas has continued at a high level. It has been better merely within the United Kingdom because of the disastrous policies of his Government, which discouraged people from moving within the United Kingdom.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that of equal importance in this matter is the need to attract migrants into Scotland?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I assure my hon. Friend that we bear that very much in mind.